Israel’s repeated rebellion in the wilderness is met by God’s justice and mercy.
On their way to the Promised Land, Israel rebels against God again and again. God responds with short-term severity and long-term generosity that tells us much about God’s covenant faithfulness.
After centuries of living in foreign lands, the time comes for the Israelites to return to the land God promised to Abraham. But soon after they set out for Canaan, Israel perpetually complains, sins, and even incites rebellion against Moses and Aaron in God's presence. Eleven days of travel in the wilderness become 40 years as a result of their unbelief, and only their children can enter the Promised Land. Tired and frustrated, even Moses rebels against God's command and is forbidden from entering the Promised Land.
Each time Israel rebels, God displays his justice and mercy together. A pagan prophet is hired to curse Israel, but he only hears words of blessing from God. Even in their rebellion, God continues to show his incredible love and provision for them. The book of Numbers becomes a warning and encouragement for us to follow God and trust his good purposes.
The Journey Begins
The people are sorted according to tribe with the Tabernacle at the center. God gives additional laws to help his people welcome God’s holiness.
Are We There Yet?
In two separate sections, the people of Israel complain in the wilderness, bringing God’s discipline. God is faithful but will allow his people rebel and face consequences.
The Bad Report
Twelve spies enter the Promised Land, but ten stir up the people in rebellion. Moses urges God to remember his covenant with Abraham, and God declares that Israel will wander for forty years.
The Plains of Moab
The king of Moab pays Balaam to curse Israel, but three times he blesses them. Balaam sees a vision of a king who will rule over the nations.
A New Generation
At the end of the book, Israel prepares to enter the Promised Land. They win several key victories and some tribes begin to settle.